Whether you are an adoptee, you have adopted children in your family, you are thinking about adopting, or you are an adoption advocate, taking part in National Adoption Month is a great way to learn more and help raise awareness about the benefits of adoption. The Children’s Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), has designated November as National Adoption Month, and each year it chooses a specific aspect of adoption to highlight through outreach, social media, and public education.
For 2017, the Children’s Bureau has chosen the theme, “Teens Need Families, No Matter What.”
According to DHHS, this theme “highlights the importance of identifying well-prepared and committed families for the thousands of teenagers in foster care. Many of these young people are less likely to be adopted, often because of their age, and will too often age out of the system without a stable support system. Securing lifelong connections for these teens, legally and emotionally, is an urgent need and critical component of their future achievement and overall well-being.”
Fostering Engagement for National Adoption Month
Adopting children of all ages and from all backgrounds presents unique challenges. For families thinking about adopting teenagers who are in foster care, helping teens understand the purpose of adoption and both what it does and don’t mean to be adopted can be crucial to making the process successful. The Children’s Bureau has developed the acronym, ENGAGE, to help everyone involved have open and honest discussions that help promote a successful outcome:
Explain what it means to be adopted, both generally and for teenagers who have grown up in foster care.
Not a one-time conversation. Adoption is a major life event for everyone involved. When speaking with teenagers about adoption, it is important to engage in an ongoing dialogue that promotes inquiry and transparency.
Give the teen the opportunity to talk. Discussions about adoption should involve dialogue where teens are encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
Ask teens to talk about what, and who is important to them. The more they feel heard, the more comfortable they are likely to feel about the entire process.
Give teens choices so that they have the opportunity to play an active role in the process.
Explain the alternatives to adoption and help teens understand the pros and cons of each of the options that are available.
Resources for Adults and Couples Thinking about Adopting in Ohio
While adopting can seem like a difficult process, it can actually be fairly straightforward if you know what to expect along the way. Whether you are considering a public adoption through a foster care agency or you are interested in a private adoption, the more you can do to educate yourself about the process, the less likely you are to run into unexpected challenges that can lead to unnecessary stress and delays.
In recognition of National Adoption Month, we encourage all prospective parents to take the time to learn more about adoption, and to help their loved ones better understand what it means to adopt a child into your home:
- How to Adopt – Answers to FAQs about adoption from DHHS’s Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Ohio Adoption FAQs – Answers from our attorneys to common questions about adopting in Ohio
- Ohio Adoption Laws – A summary of Ohio’s adoption laws prepared by our attorneys
- Spread the Word – Tips, and tools from DHHS for sharing information about National Adoption Month
- What is the Difference Between Adoption and Guardianship in Ohio? – An article discussing the differences between adoption and guardianship, each of which offers unique opportunities for caring adults to provide for teens in need.
Speak with a Cleveland Adoption Lawyer at Laubacher & Co.
If you would like to speak with an attorney about adopting, you can contact our Cleveland, OH law offices for a free, no-obligation consultation. To schedule an appointment at your convenience, please call (440) 336-8687 or get in touch online today.